ESTERO, FL – Brant Harris scored at 3:00 into overtime to lift the Florida Everblades (16-4-1-2) to a wild 8-7 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators (10-13-3-1) Friday night at Germain Arena.
It took just 28 seconds for the Everblades to find the back of the net, as John McCarron intercepted a pass out of the zone and delivered a shot from the slot that beat goaltender Matt Ginn to put Florida on top 1-0.
A goal by Adam Brace just five minutes later put Florida on top by a 2-0 count, but the lead quickly disappeared before the close of the opening frame. Cason Hohman, Eric Neiley and Brock Higgs combined to score three unanswered tallies to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead heading into second period.
Florida netted the equalizer five minutes into to the middle frame on a breakaway tally by Michael Kirkpatrick. However, less than a minute later the Gladiators reclaimed the lead when Shane Bakker picked up a rebound at the top of the crease and slipped the puck around the outstretched leg of Florida goaltender Anthony Peters.
Bakker struck again four minutes later, when he netted his second tally of the game from the crease area to put Atlanta ahead by a 5-3 score. The goal chased Peters from the contest after allowing five goals on 17 shots.
Just as Atlanta did in the first period, the Everblades turned the tables in the second, scoring three unanswered goals of their own. The first of those goals came on an outstanding effort by Akim Aliu.
While killing off a penalty, John McCarron stole the puck away and skated across center to the left wing side and into the Atlanta zone. While that took place, Akim Aliu, positioned deep in his own end, turned on the jets and skated down the opposite wing to catch up with the play unbeknownst to the Atlanta defenders. McCarron drew in the defense and the floated a pass to the slot that caught Aliu in stride. Aliu was rewarded for his efforts, as he hurled a shot that beat Ginn for the goal.
Brendan O’Donnell netted the equalizer from the top of the crease just two minutes to even the score at five.
In the closing seconds of the period, Matt Berry’s shot hit off two bodies in front and sent the puck bouncing perfectly to the stick of a rushing Josh Wesley down the right wing. Wesley gathered the puck to the right of the crease and shoved it into the empty net for the go-ahead tally with just two seconds remaining in the period.
Florida’s 6-5 lead went away in the third, as the see-saw battle continued. Bryan Cameron tied the game at six at 11:47 of the third period. Just five minutes later, Neiley finished off a tic-tac-toe play by directing the puck behind Skoff to give the Gladiators their third lead of the game at 7-6.
The Everblades continued to press, and an Atlanta defender bumped into Ginn knocking him down outside of the crease. Ginn struggled to get up after the accidental hit, leaving the net wide open. O’Donnell circled the net and from the right wing boards hurled a shot that found its way into the net to put the score at 7-7 and send the game to overtime. Ginn was forced to leave the game with an injury, and Kent Patterson came in relief.
After the Gladiators killed off a Florida power play opportunity to open the extra session, the ‘Blades broke into the zone for a scoring chance. Atlanta attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, but Wesley stole it away to set up a 2-on-0 chance down low Wesley steered a pass across the ice to Brant Harris who wristed the puck past Patterson for the game-winner to seal the 8-7 Florida victory.
Matt Skoff earned the win in a relief effort stopping 14 of 15 shots, while Patterson suffers the loss allowing the one goal in overtime on five shots faced in over six minutes of relief action. The featured a combined 15 goals, and all four goaltenders that dressed on Friday saw action.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at Germain Arena beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Upcoming Home Games & PromotionsSaturday, December 17 vs. Atlanta, 7:00 p.m. – Star Wars Night! First 1000 fans will receive FREE lightsabers! Star Wars characters will also be on hand for photos with fans. Fans are welcome to sport their Star Wars gear. Tailgate party featuring live music and bounce houses for the kids takes place from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Game Tickets: Everblades tickets may be purchased at the Florida Community Bank Box Office located at Germain Arena, or at any Ticketmaster outlet, or online atwww.ticketmaster.com2016-17 Season Ticket Plans Now Available! Full and flexible partial season ticket plans are currently available for the 2016-17 season. We offer several tickets packages designed to help fit your budget and schedule.
Special Offer! Purchase any new ticket package for the 2016-17 season, and receive a $20 gift card from Ford's Garage! Locations include Cape Coral, Downtown Fort Myers and Miromar Outlets in Estero.
Discounted Group Tickets: Bring your group of 10 or more to a game at a discounted price, and you ma also receive an Everblades souvenir! Group tickets are available for all home games. For more information on group tickets, call 239-948-7825.This release courtesy of Fort Myers Technical College & Cape Coral Technical College
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###